Seafood is extremely perishable. Quickly freezing it at the height of freshness (usually when it’s still on the boat or shortly thereafter) is a successful way to keep the flavor and texture. When purchasing frozen seafood, look for solidly frozen pieces with few ice crystals to ensure they have not thawed and re-frozen at some point before purchase. Keep the seafood frozen until you are ready to use it by storing it in the coldest section of your freezer, on a low shelf towards the back.
When you are ready to use the frozen product, you may safely defrost it in one of the following three ways: in the refrigerator, under cool running water, or in the microwave.
Plan at least a day ahead if you choose to defrost in the refrigerator. It will take about 24 hours to defrost a bulky frozen item, or several pieces of food that have been frozen together. Place frozen seafood in a clean container to catch the liquid released from the product as it thaws. If the frozen seafood is not already wrapped in plastic, cover the top lightly with plastic wrap to protect it from coming in to contact with other foods in the refrigerator. Place the container on a low shelf and defrost slowly over a day. After thawing, remove any liquid that has collected in the packaging and use within a day for optimal freshness and safety.
Cool Water Thawing
Use this method when you have less time, but are able to more closely watch the frozen seafood. Begin by placing the food in a leak-proof plastic bag (if it is not in one already). Submerge the seafood in cold tap water and change the water every thirty minutes until the food has defrosted. Do not try to speed the process by defrosting in hot water because this will encourage bacteria on the food to multiply. Cook seafood thawed under cold water immediately after thawing.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for choosing the appropriate microwave defrost setting and defrost until the food is cool and pliable. Be careful not to overheat-this will start the cooking process. Cook seafood that has been microwave-defrosted immediately after thawing.